The Armero tragedy (Spanish: Tragedia de Armero) was the major consequence of the November 13, 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Tolima, Colombia. After 69 years of dormancy, the eruption caught nearby towns unaware, even though the government had received warnings to evacuate the area from multiple volcanological organizations when volcanic activity had been detected in September 1985.
As pyroclastic flows erupted from the volcano's crater, they melted the mountain's glaciers, sending four enormous lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) down its slopes at 60 kilometers (37 mi) per hour. The lahars picked up speed in gullies and coursed into the six major rivers at the base of the volcano; they engulfed the town of Armero, killing more than 20,000 of its almost 29,000 inhabitants. Casualties in other towns, particularly Chinchiná, brought the overall death toll to 23,000. Footage and photographs of Omayra Sánchez, a young victim of the tragedy, were published around the world. Other photographs of the lahars and the impact of the disaster captured attention worldwide and led to controversy over the degree to which the Colombian government was responsible for the disaster. One person at a mass funeral in Ibague said, "The volcano didn't kill 22,000 people. The government killed them."
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